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عدن ʻAdan
Port of Aden (around 1910). Ships lying off Steamer Point at the entrance to the modern inner harbour.
Aden is located in Yemen
Location in Yemen
Coordinates: 12°48′N 45°02′E / 12.8°N 45.033°E / 12.8; 45.033
Country  Yemen
Governorate 'Adan Governorate
Population (2005)
 - Total 550,744
Time zone GMT (UTC+3)

Aden (pronounced /ˈeɪdən/; Arabic: عدنʻAdan, pronounced [ˈʕɑdæn]) is a city in Yemen. It is a seaport, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea (the Gulf of Aden), some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb.

Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a low isthmus. This harbour, Front Bay, was first used by the ancient Kingdom of Awsan between the 5th and 7th centuries BC. The modern harbour is on the other side of the peninsula. Aden now has a population of about 800,000 people.

The old town of Aden, situated in the crater of an extinct volcano (1999)

Aden consists of a number of distinct sub-centers: Crater, the original port city; Ma'alla, the modern port; Tawahi, known as "Steamer Point" in colonial days; and the resorts of Gold Mohur. Khormaksar, located on the isthmus that connects Aden proper with the mainland, includes the city's diplomatic missions, the main offices of Aden University, and Aden International Airport—the former RAF Khormaksar. On the mainland are the sub-centres of Sheikh Othman, a former oasis area; Al-Mansura, a town planned by the British; and Madinat ash-Sha'b (formerly Madinat al-Itihad), the site designated as the capital of the South Arabian Federation and now home to a large power/desalinization facility and additional faculties of Aden University.

Aden encloses the eastern side of a vast, natural harbor that comprises the modern port. The volcanic peninsula of Little Aden forms a near-mirror image, enclosing the harbor and port on the western side. Little Aden became the site of the oil refinery and tanker port. Both were established and operated by British Petroleum until they were turned over to Yemeni government ownership and control in 1977.

Aden was the capital of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen until that country's unification with the Yemen Arab Republic. On that occasion, the city was declared a free trade zone. Aden gives its name to the Gulf of Aden.




Aden, among South Arabian kingdoms, in the 3rd century AD

A local legend in Yemen states that Aden may be as old as human history itself. Some also believe that Cain and Abel are buried somewhere in the city.[1]

The port's convenient position on the sea route between India and Europe has made Aden desirable to rulers who sought to possess it at various times throughout history. Known as Arabian Eudaemon in the 1st century BC, it was a transshipping point for the Red Sea trade, but fell on hard times when new shipping practices by-passed it and made the daring direct crossing to India in the 1st century AD, according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The same work describes Aden as 'a village by the shore', which would well describe the town of Crater while it was still little-developed. There is no mention of fortification but at this stage, Aden was more an island than a peninsula as the isthmus (a tombolo) was not then so developed as it is today.


Although the pre-Islamic civilization of Himyar was capable of building large structures, there seems to have been little fortification at this stage. Fortifications at Mareb and other places in Yemen and the Hadhramaut make it clear that both the Himyar and the Sabean cultures were well capable of it. Thus, watch towers, since destroyed, are possible. However, the Arab historians Ibn al Mojawir and Abu Makhramah attribute the first fortification of Aden to Beni Zuree'a. Abu Makhramah has also included a detailed biography of Muhammad Azim Sultan Qamarbandi Naqsh his his work, Tarikh ul-Yemen. The aim seems to have been twofold: to keep hostile forces out and to maintain revenue by controlling the movement of goods, thereby preventing smuggling. In its original form, some of this work was relatively feeble. However, after 1175 AD, rebuilding in a more solid form began.

In 1421, China's Ming dynasty Yongle Emperor ordered principal envoy grand eunuch Li Xing and grand eunuch Zhou Man of Zheng He's fleet to convey an imperial edict with hats and robes to bestow on the king of Aden. The envoys boarded three treasure ships and set sail from Sumatra to the port of Aden. This event was recorded in the book Ying-yai Sheng-lan by Ma Huan who accompanied the imperial envoy.[2]

1951 stamp depicting Steamer Point with the outside of the volcanic rim of Crater in the background
1937 stamp of Aden: Half-anna dhow

British rule

Before British rule, Aden was occupied by the Portuguese between 1513-1538 and 1547-1548. It was ruled by the Ottoman Empire between 1538-1547 and 1548-1645. After Ottoman rule, it was ruled by the Sultanate of Lahej, under suzerainty of the Zaidi imams of Yemen.

In 1838, Sultan Muhsin bin Fadl of the nearby state of Lahej ceded 194 km² (75 sq. miles) including Aden to the British. On 19 January 1839, the British East India Company landed Royal Marines at Aden to occupy the territory and stop attacks by pirates against British shipping to India. The port lies about equidistant from the Suez Canal, Bombay (now Mumbai), and Zanzibar, which were all important British possessions. Aden had been an entrepôt and a way-station for seamen in the ancient world. There, supplies, particularly water, were replenished. So, in the mid-nineteenth century, it became necessary to replenish coal and boiler water. Thus Aden acquired a coaling station at Steamer Point. Aden was to remain under British control until 1967.

Until 1937, Aden was ruled as part of British India and was known as the Aden Settlement. Its original territory was enlarged in 1857 by the 13 km² island of Perim, in 1868 by the 73 km² Khuriya Muriya Islands, and in 1915 by the 108 km² island of Kamaran.

In 1937, the Settlement was detached from India and became the Colony of Aden, a British Crown colony. The change in government was a step towards the change in monetary units seen in the stamps illustrating this article. When the Indian Empire went its independent way, Indian rupees (divided into annas) were replaced in Aden by East African shillings. The hinterland of Aden and Hadhramaut were also loosely tied to Britain as the Aden Protectorate which was overseen from Aden.

Aden is known for its boat-oriented stamps. Mukalla is on the Hadhramaut coast, about 500 km east of Aden, in what was then the Aden Protectorate.

Aden's location also made it a useful entrepôt for mail passing between places around the Indian Ocean and Europe. Thus, a ship passing from Suez to Bombay could leave mail for Mombasa at Aden for collection. See History of postage in Aden.

After the loss of the Suez Canal in 1956, Aden became the main base in the region for the British.

Aden sent a team of two to the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Western Australia.

Little Aden 1955 to 1967

Little Aden is still dominated by the oil refinery built for British Petroleum. Little Aden was well known to seafarers for its tanker port with a very welcoming seaman's mission near to the BP Aden tugs' jetties, complete with swimming pool and air conditioned bar. The accommodation areas for the refinery personnel were known by the original Arabic names of Bureika and Ghadir.

A street scene at the old town of Aden. 1999

Bureika was wooden housing bunkhouses built to accommodate the thousands of skilled men and labourers imported to build the refinery, later converted to family housing, plus imported prefabricated houses "the Riley-Newsums" that are also to be found in parts of Australia (Woomera). Bureika also had a protected bathing area and Beach Club.

Ghadir housing was stone built, largely from the local granite quarry; much of this housing still stands today, now occupied by wealthier locals from Big Aden. Little Aden also has a local township and numerous picturesque fishing villages, including the Lobster Pots of Ghadir. The army had extensive camps in Bureika and through Silent Valley in Falaise Camp, these successfully protected the refinery staff and facilities throughout the troubles, with only a very few exceptions. Schooling was provided for children from kindergarten age through to primary school, after that, children were bussed to The Isthmus School in Khormaksar, though this had to be stopped during the Aden Emergency.

Federation of South Arabia and the Aden Emergency

In order to stabilize Aden and the surrounding Aden Protectorate from the designs of the Russian backed communists of North Yemen, the British attempted to gradually unite the disparate states of the region in preparation for eventual independence. On 18 January 1963, the Colony of Aden was incorporated into the Federation of Arab Emirates of the South against the wishes of the communists of North Yemen who claimed the city and south Yemen as part of their territory. The city's populace as the State of Aden and the Federation was renamed the Federation of South Arabia (FSA).

An insurgency against British rule known as the Aden Emergency began with a grenade attack by the communist's National Liberation Front (NLF), against the British High Commissioner on 10 December 1963, killing one person and injuring fifty, and a "state of emergency" was declared.

In 1964, Britain announced its intention to grant independence to the FSA in 1968, but that the British military would remain in Aden. The security situation deteriorated as NLF and FLOSY (Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen) vied for the upper hand.

In January 1967, there were mass riots between the NLF and their rival FLOSY supporters in the old Arab quarter of Aden town. This conflict continued until mid February, despite the intervention of British troops. During the period there were as many attacks on the British troops by both sides as against each other culminating in the destruction of an Aden Airlines DC3 plane in the air with no survivors.

On 30 November 1967 the British finally pulled out, leaving Aden and the rest of the FSA under NLF control. The Royal Marines, who had been the first British troops to occupy Aden in 1839, were the last to leave—with the exception of a Royal Engineer detachment.


Aden in 1960

Aden became the capital of the new People's Republic of South Yemen which was renamed the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1970. With the unification of northern and southern Yemen in 1990, Aden was no longer a national capital but remained the capital of Aden Governorate which covered an area similar to that of the Aden Colony.

On 29 December 1992, Al Qaeda conducted its first known terrorist attack in Aden, bombing the Gold Mohur Hotel (/ɡoʊld mɔər/), where U.S. servicemen were known to have been staying en route to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. A Yemeni and an Austrian tourist died in the attack.[3]

Aden was briefly the centre of the secessionist Democratic Republic of Yemen from 21 May 1994 but was reunited by Republic of Yemen troops on 7 July 1994.

Members of al Qaeda attempted to bomb USS The Sullivans at the port of Aden as part of the 2000 millennium attack plots. The boat that had the explosives in it sank, forcing the planned attack to be aborted.

The USS Cole bombing occurred in Aden on 12 October 2000.

In 2007 growing dissatisfaction with unification led to the formation of the secessionist Southern Movement. There is a growing sense of nostalgia for the stability of the days of British rule.[4]

Main sights

Aden has a number of historical and natural sites of interest to visitors. These include:

  • The Cisterns of Tawila – an ancient, water-cachement system located in the sub-center of Crater.
  • Sira Fort
  • The Aden Minaret
  • The Palace of the Sultanate of Lahej/National Museum
  • The Aden Military Museum
  • The Rimbaud House
  • The fortifications of Jebal Hadid and Jebal Shamsan
  • The beaches of Aden and Little Aden
  • Al-Aidaroos Mosque
  • The Zoroastrian Temple
  • The historical British churches


Prior to its 1996 disestablishment, Yemen Airlines, the national airline of South Yemen, had its head office in Aden. On 15 May 1996 Yemen Airlines merged with Yemenia.[5][6]


Aden's harbor in 1960

The city is served by the Aden International Airport, 9.5 kilometers away from the city.

See also


  1. ^ Modern Middle East Nations and Their Strageic Place in the World: Yemen, 2004, by Hal Markovitz. ISBN 1-59084-521-8
  2. ^ Ma Huan Ying-yai Sheng-lan, The Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores, 1433, translated by J.V.G. Mills, with foreword and preface, Hakluty Society, London 1970; reprinted by the White Lotus Press 1997. ISBN 974-8496-78-3
  3. ^ ""Timeline: Al Qaeda's Global Context: Al Qaeda's First Attack"". Frontline: The Man Who Knew. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  4. ^ "In Yemen’s South, Protests Could Cause More Instability". New York Times. February 28,2010. Retrieved 2010/02/08. 
  5. ^ "North and South Yemen Airlines to Merge." Flight International. 10-16 April 1996. 10.
  6. ^ "Yemenia background." Yemenia. Retrieved on 26 October 2009.


  • Norris, H.T.; Penhey, F.W. (1955). "The Historical Development of Aden's defences". The Geographical Journal CXXI part I. 

External links

Coordinates: 12°48′N 45°02′E / 12.8°N 45.033°E / 12.8; 45.033

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Aden is a city in the Yemeni Coastal Plains, on the Gulf of Aden just at the Southern End of the Red Sea. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Aden has a long and complex history.

  • Marco Polo described it as a hub of commerce, where goods arriving by ship from the East were transferred to smaller boats for the trip up the Red Sea and on to Alexandria and Christendom.
  • At one point it ruled a small empire, the part of Africa just across from it.
  • In the 19th century, it became a British protectorate.
  • It was the capital of South Yemen until Yemen was re-united in 1990.

It is a very picturesque city with a mix of traditional Arabic and British influences. It was the capital of the liberal South and is presently changing negatively due to the take-over of the tribal forces of the North. For instance the Soviets banned head scarves for women and for decades, women were relatively emancipated and could carry out university degrees abundantly. Now, the scarves are back on the street. One can also notice a sizeable Somali minority (war refugees).

Get in

Access to Aden is available by car, airplane and bus. Airfare from Sana'a on Yemenia, the national carrier, will run around 10,000 rials or 55 USD. Buses are generally comfortable and the ride from Sana'a to Aden is about 8 hours. A ticket will run you ~1500 rials. Be prepared to show a travel permit (Tashrih) on military checkpoints. You can't leave capital Sanaa without it. It's good idea to have also few photocopies of your passport ready. If you travel to Aden or elsewhere in Yemen by plane, no travel permit is required.

Flights to many cities in the middle east. The only non stop destination outside of the middle east is to London.

Get around

The different current options are:

  • private taxi
  • collective taxi ("mer mer") - costing 40 YER from Tawahi to Crater or Sirah for instance (ask for colour codes if you speak Arabic), cheap and easy to use along common routes
  • by foot - for any climbing and and to complement many collective taxi trips.

Taxis are practical, yet always bargain with the taxi driver before getting in. Otherwise, they have the tendency to get it done at their high price. If you know the city very well, you can use the mini-buses along with the public. The mini-buses are easy to use; they follow an essentially circular path around the city. Find someone familiar with the area to explain their route as the fare for the buses is around 30 rials, or roughly a tenth of the average taxi ride. There are also many boats that will take you whenever on a little cruise on the sea.

Aden International Airport is accessible, yet if you are in Yemen it is better to drive there. You can also rent cars from international companies. Driving in Aden is not as fraught with peril as in the north, as Adenis seemed to have learned driving skills from the British.


Sunsets, lagoons (for bird-watching), the Aden museum, Crater (including a shopping district), people, beach and tanks.

Two museums :

  • Military museum (center of Crater)
  • National museum (Crater, near Sirah, back side facing sea in front of the Pizza Hut).

Never seemed to be open. No indications whatsoever in any other language than Arabic.

Sights :

  • Tawahi (Steamer Point) :
    • Tourist Port
    • Aziz's Bookshop
    • Little Ben
    • Statue of Queen Victoria
    • Ancient "Hôtel Univers" (where Arthur Rimbaud lived)
    • Climbing village
    • Panoramic viewpoints
  • Ma'alla
    • Shopping venue
  • Crater
    • Mosques
    • Central Market
    • Military Museum
    • National Museum
    • Water reservoirs (pay, 10 YER)
    • Panoramic viewpoints
    • Rambow Hotel (which is NOT Rimbaud's hotel)
  • Sirah
    • Fish market (w. sharks) and Fisherman Bay
    • Sirah Fortress
    • Aden Mall.

Do or try

Among activities carried out by the locals, one can easily sample:

  • snooker ("billiard")
  • hanging out at fresh juice bars or small restaurants with kubz (giant pita bread)
  • chewing betel (2 versions : tobacco, sweet) but do be aware that this causes cancer on the long-run, and also stains teeth and gums red. Tobacco version is very strong and spitting regularly is highly recommended. Sweet version is particularly tasty and doesn't induce the same urge to spit
  • qat - the national past-time. This also causes cancer on the long-run; first-time use generally induces restlessness, insomnia and general mouth fatigue and aches
  • climbing on the mountain tops for great views of the city (beware of the no trespassing zone and take abundant water and sun screening equipment)
  • beach activities.

Aden is especially known for the beautiful beaches and swimming activities. Besides this, Aden has the only considerable nightlife in Yemen, and foreigners can enjoy wonderful Arabian nights.

Furthermore, Sport fishing should be considered. Tunas and sharks can be hunted near the coast.

A visit at the Gold Mohur Beach and Elephant Bay Hotel is a must. For women traveling alone, there is also a women only beach located at the Sheraton Hotel. Excellent snorkeling is available although not as clear as Sharm El-Sheikh.


Beautiful scarfs can be purchased in Crater as well as an abaya for the ladies. Spices can also be found in abundance. Other typical local products include: perfumes & incense, male dresses, female dresses, head scarves, honey, sweets.


Aden is especially known for its fresh fish.

Breakfast dishes Foul beans and baguette bread or khobez (round pita bread) Khmir (sweet square doughnuts) and tea with milk

Dinner or lunch Moufa or mukbza restaurants have mufa fish ,khobez rushwsh ,mulwah,rateb(round bread).

Zurbian is a mixed of lamb meat & colure rice.

Saiydia : fish steak (tuna or king fish) and rice.

Shwarma is the snacks in the evening, pita bread and tender grilled lamb meat with Salad


As in the north capital Sana'a where only alcoholic drinks are officially served in Sheraton and many places where you can get alcoholic openly or secretly, as in Sanaa have many night spots. there are few places in Aden where you can buy officially alcoholic drinks. Furthermore, Aden is known for its belly dancing events by overseas dancers (e.g Iraqis, Syrian and others), which you can find in many tourist places incl. Sheraton Aden, Diplomacy Resort, Bahara, Nashwan, Hotel Aden and others.

Do note that fruit juice bars offer very nice, cheap and wholesome drinks.


Aden is the touristic and economical capital of Yemen. You will find many chances to purchase alcohol, go to clubs and enjoy a sunset in the high-class hotels. There are many 5 star hotels and numerous others.

5 Stars:

  • Sheraton Gold Mohur
  • Movenpick Adel Hotel
  • Holiday Inn

There are many budget, decent and clean hotels and resorts such as:

  • Aden Airport Hotel
  • Elephant Bay

plus There many middle range hotels has opened recently in aden,shekh Othman ,maala,and in crater $50-$90

Good value to money is "Yemen Nights Tourism Hotel" in Queen Arwa Road, Crater. Tel: 256093. Less than 10 euros you get clean double room with tv, fridge, balcony and air con (which is essential in hot Aden).

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ADEN, a seaport and territory in Arabia, politically part of British India, under the governor of Bombay. The seaport is situated in 12° 45' N. lat., and 45° 4' E. long., on a peninsula near the entrance to the Red Sea, ioo m. E. of the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb. The peninsula of Aden consists chiefly of a mass of barren and desolate volcanic rocks, extending five miles from east to west, and three from its northern shore to Ras Sanailah or Cape Aden, its most southerly point; it is connected with the mainland by a neck of flat sandy ground only a few feet high; and its greatest elevation is Jebel Shamshan, 1776 ft. above the level of the sea. The town is built on the eastern coast, in what is probably the crater of an extinct volcano, and is surrounded by precipitous rocks that form an admirable natural defence. There are two harbours, an outer, facing the town, protected by the island of Sirah, but now partially choked with mud; and an inner, called Aden Back-bay, or, by the Arabs, Bandar Tawayih, on the western side of the peninsula, which at all periods of the year admits vessels drawing less than 20 ft. On the whole, Aden is a healthy place, although it suffers considerably from the want of good water, and the heat is often very intense. From time to time additional land on the mainland has been acquired by cession or purchase, and the adjoining island of Perim, lying in the actual mouth of the strait, was permanently occupied in 1857. Farther inland, and along the coast, most of the Arab chiefs are under the political control of the British government, which pays them regular allowances. The area of the peninsula is only 15 sq. m., but the total area of British territory is returned at 80 sq. m., including Perim (5 sq. m.), and that of the Aden Protectorate is about 900° sq. m. The seaport of Aden is strongly fortified. Modern science has converted "Steamer Point" into a seemingly impregnable position, the peninsula which the "Point" forms to the whole crater being cut off by a fortified line which runs from north to south, just to the east of the coal wharfs. The administration is conducted by a political resident, who is also the military commandant. All food requires to be imported, and the water-supply is largely derived from condensation. A little water is obtained from wells, and some from an aqueduct 7 m. long, constructed in 1867 at a cost of £30,000, besides an irregular supply from the old reservoirs.

From its admirable commercial and military position, Aden early became the chief entrepot of the trade between Europe and Asia. It is the 'Apa/3La EbbaL�cov of the Periplus. It was known to the Romans as Arabia Felix and Attanae, and was captured by them, probably in the year 24 B.C. In 1513 it was unsuccessfully attacked by the Portuguese under Albuquerque, but subsequently it fell into the hands of the Turks in 1538. In the following century the Turks themselves relinquished their conquests in Yemen, and the sultan of Sana established a supremacy over Aden, which was maintained until the year 1735, when the sheikh of Lahej, throwing off his allegiance, founded a line of independent sultans. In 1837 a ship under British colours was wrecked near Aden, and the crew and passengers grievously maltreated by the Arabs. An explanation of the outrage being demanded by the Bombay government, the sultan undertook to make compensation for the plunder of the vessel, and also agreed to sell his town and port to the English. Captain Haines of the Indian navy was sent to complete these arrangements, but the sultan's son refused to fulfil the promises that his father had made. A combined naval and miltary force was thereupon despatched, and the place was captured and annexed to British India on the 16th of January 1839. The withdrawal of the trade between Europe and the East, caused by the discovery of the passage round the Cape of Good Hope, and the misgovernment of the native rulers, had gradually reduced Aden to a state of comparative insignificance; but about the time of its capture by the British the Red Sea route to India was reopened, and commerce soon began to flow in its former channel. Aden was made a free port, and was chosen as one of the coaling stations of the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company. Its importance as a port of call for steamers and a coaling station has grown immensely since the opening of the Suez Canal. It also conducts a considerable trade with the interior of Arabia, and with the Somali coast of Africa on the opposite side of the Red Sea. The submarine cables of the Eastern Telegraph Company here diverge - on the one hand to India, the Far East and Australia, and on the other hand to Zanzibar and the Cape.

In 1839 the population was less than woo, but in 1901 it had g rownt043,974. The gross revenue (1901-1902) was Rs. 37,25,915. There are three printing-presses, of which one is in the gaol and the other two belong to a European and a Parsee firm of merchants. The port is visited yearly by some 1300 steamers with a tonnage of 2-1 million tons. The principal articles of import are coffee, cotton-piece goods, &c., grain, hides, coal, opium, cottontwist and yarn. The exports are, in the main, a repetition of the imports. Of the total imports nearly one-third come from the east coast of Africa, and another third from Arabia. Of the total exports, nearly one-third again go to the east coast of Africa. The Aden brigade belongs to the western army corps of India.

The 1922 extension to the 1911 encyclopedia has updated information on this subject.
See Aden (addition) for this information.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Proper noun


  1. Seaport and largest city of Yemen.




Proper noun

Aden m.

  1. Aden

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